Mainland carriers should support Taiwan Strait travel
Monday, 7 July 2008: In a nod to the improved political relations, a surge in flight services across the Taiwan Strait is expected to follow the China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou to Taipei on Friday.
The weekend has 36 charters planned, conducted by carriers from both sides, allowing up to 3000 Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan daily.
The struggling aviation and tourism sectors of Taiwan are anticipated to benefit from this increase in services.
The most charters are to be provided by China Eastern, who have scheduled four connections weekly on the routes from Shanghai.
These services are so lucrative, that China Eastern has explained that only a 50% load factor will be necessary to break even on this route.
Along with China Eastern, China Airlines and EVA Air are hoping for similar benefits, by retrieving traffic from established cross-Straits service providers Cathay Pacific and Air Macau.
Mainland carriers have experienced a downturn in demand recently, most evident in the contraction in May 2008, which was the first negative growth since the SARS incidents of 2003.
Furthermore, CAAC data reveals more drastic reductions in international traffic than domestic during May 2008.
Improvement is not expected from June 2008, evident in the recent statement of China Eastern Chairman, Li Fenghua, claiming the May 2008 downturn would extend into June.
He added, “There is not sufficient air traffic demand now.”
“Despite the rise in fuel surcharges, airlines will have to make more discounts in order to compete for passengers.”
Hence, the continued liberalisation of services to and from Taiwan should be supported by Mainland carriers, as they will actively be seeking any remaining potential growth areas.